Rose more or less floated out of the showers and down the hallway, feeling lighter than air. It was a peculiar feeling to have, too, under the circumstances. Rose felt as if, if she were to stop moving for a moment, she'd dissolve into giggles.
Why was this happening? This wasn't the way you were supposed to feel.
Rose felt like she should feel placid- content and happy. Not bubbly, not giddy, not anything- just sort of calm. Calm and complete.
Not that she didn't feel complete. She felt…odd. Odd and happy.
And she decided, then and there, that feeling odd and happy would have to be okay.
Rose stopped to collect her thoughts. She walked over to the wall and tipped her forehead forward so that it rested lightly against it.
What now? She thought. She'd go back to the TARDIS, change clothes- that was priority number one. Then they'd say good bye, the TARDIS would dematirialise, and then…
And then what? Rose thought. What would we do? Just pretend like nothing happened? Just go about our merry way, different planets, different times…pretending like nothing was different now?
Well, that certainly wasn't happening.
Rose took in a breath and held it. The giddiness she had so recently been feeling had almost altogether vanished.
No, she thought. Don't think about it. Get that feeling back.
Suddenly, Rose was aware of a presence standing close to her. Praying it wasn't the Doctor (and not sure why she didn't want it to be), she turned her head, only to see House standing next to her, grinning like the cat that had caught the canary.
Alright, maybe not like the cat that had caught the canary, Rose mused. But like the cat who had trapped the canary in a corner and was savoring the moment.
"Miss Tyler-" was all he managed to get out, before Rose turned suddenly and slapped him on the cheek. House staggered backwards a few steps, tripping a little bit. "Oooh," he said. "Ouch. That was the same side Jack got me on."
"You deserve it," Rose said, trying to keep her breathing regular. There was a fury that was building inside her, and it was taking a lot of strain to keep it from surfacing. "You're lucky I don't kick your ass."
House rubbed his cheek. "Sheesh, you and Cameron."
Rose's mouth twitched. "Cameron beat you up?"
"She stepped on my hand," House said.
"Better than nothing."
House smiled in spite of himself. "I should have known not to mess with the time-traveler and his posse."
Rose's nostrils flared. "Jack and I are not a… posse," she spat, "and don't you-"
"Right, sorry, not a posse. Are you the girlfriend?"
Rose opened her mouth to protest instinctively, but hesitated a half-second too long.
"Aren't you going to contradict me?"
"Oh, but you weren't going to, were you?"
Again, Rose hesitated.
"Are you his girlfriend or what?"
"I'm his companion," Rose said, realising how ridiculous she sounded.
"But you aren't involved?"
Rose didn't say anything for a moment. "No," she lied through her teeth.
"How do you know?"
"Uh, dirt to Rose," House said, raising his eyebrows. "I always know."
"I'm not lying, though."
"Lying again!" House said, throwing his hands up. "Liar, liar, liar!"
"Don't make me hit you again," Rose warned. "'Cause I will."
"Yeah, I know," House smirked. "You're like that."
"Yeah, I am," Rose said, smiling. Had she won?
"Were you talking to the Doctor?" House asked. The change of subject threw Rose off.
"Yes…no," she tried to cover it up.
"For God's sake, quit lying! It's annoying!"
"Sorry," she apologised, and immediately regretted it. House did not deserve an apology from anyone.
"Did he tell you anything of importance?"
"I'd assume you'd know, House, you're the one who listens in on other people's conversations."
House chuckled. "So you found out?"
"Why d'you think I slapped you?"
"Cause you didn't like me?"
Rose didn't let herself grin. "Yeah, he told me some important things."
"I'm not telling you! Why do you think I would, after everything…"
"Did he tell you he loved you?"
Rose gaped. "You did listen!"
House grinned even wider. "I was right!" he cried. "Yesss!"
She clapped a hand over her mouth.
"Yeah, that's right, Rose," House said. "I guessed. Come on, I'm not that evil."
"Sometimes I wonder," Rose said, hand still over her mouth. "How did you know?"
House made a pfft-ing noise. "I was the one who freakin' set you up!" he said. "I'm the one who made this entire thing happen!"
Rose blinked. "You're lying."
"I don't lie." House wagged a finger at her. "Well, okay, I do, but not about this." He started pacing. "The first time I ever saw the Doctor, I asked him if he liked you- oh, don't look so surprised! -and he said no. Of course, he was lying. I know he was lying, because he's a bad liar. I also knew you were lying about how he got bruised up. I put a baby-monitor in my office and kept it on when I left, and eventually, I stuck gold when you and Cameron came in and had your little…discussion.
"Anyway, I knew that I could make this a catalyst, so to speak, and went to the TARDIS and told you that Cameron had told me, even though, she never did. I knew you'd be hurt, so you'd go to the Doctor, and maybe…maybe he'd spill the beans. I guess he did."
"So, you set us up?"
"Yep," House said and cringed, preparing for the inevitable blow to his head. It never came.
"So…so, you went through all of that, just on a hunch?"
"Welcome to my life, Rose Tyler. Most everything I do, most of my decisions, are based on hunches."
"…How often are you right?"
House smiled. "All the time."
House nodded. It wasn't totally truthful, but he thought it was his turn to lie. "And I didn't appreciate you lying to me."
"Why do you even care?" Rose asked. "Why do you even care that the Doctor tell me? Why was that so important to you?"
House said nothing. Words weren't forming his mind- he couldn't answer. Nothing in the world could get him to answer.
"Quit psychoanalyzing me," he told her finally.
"Could say the same about you!" Rose said, but she was not angry. She heaved a sigh. "Honestly, I dunno whether to hug you or punch you."
But it was too late- Rose stood up on her toes and flung her arms around House, pulling him into a very tight hug. House stood rigid, but when Rose didn't pull out, he put a hand on her back. "You done yet?"
Rose squeezed a little harder and pulled back.
"Thanks…" she said. "I don't know what I'm thankin' you for…but thanks."
"Yeah," House said. "Yeah. You're welcome."
Rose looked House in the eyes, and for a moment, she thought she felt a spark of compassion- a little ember that glowed, if only for a second, but she was sure it was there. It made her feel like House was just slightly human…even if just slightly.
"What is that you're wearing?" he asked, blinking, and breaking the gaze. Rose snorted and turned to run down the hallway, without another word.
Twenty minutes later, Rose entered the Doctor's hospital room wearing jeans and a jacket The Doctor was sitting on his bed, his legs dangling off the side, and Jack was leaning against the wall.
"So…what are we waiting for?" Rose said.
"You!" Jack said. "Oh, you changed."
"You look much better," the Doctor said, nodding in acknowledgement. Rose beamed at him.
"Yep," Jack agreed. "What exactly were you wearing before, your pajamas?"
Rose rolled her eyes and opened the door for both of them to leave before her. "Let's just go find House and…Jack, stop scowling, I forbid you from beating him to a pulp."
"Fine," Jack grumbled, brushing past her and striding down the hallway. The Doctor was the next to exit, but before he went through the threshold, he stopped in front of her and looked at her. A broad smile spread across his face.
"Hello," he said.
"Hi," Rose said, and smiled at him.
And that was that. Rose didn't know when the "I love you" subject would ever come up again, but when it did, Rose would be prepared. Until then, Rose and the Doctor had a secret, that wasn't really a secret. It was better than a secret, because now, neither of them were keeping it from each other. The secret was out in the open.
So it wasn't really a secret anymore. It was…something else.
And, Rose knew, that was just fine with her.
A few minutes later, the trio entered the room where House, Wilson, Foreman, Chase, and Cameron all seemed to be hard at work on a new case.
"Oh, sorry," Rose said. "Are we interrupting?"
"No," Foreman said, getting up. "Patient's still in a coma."
"We just wanted to say bye before we left."
Cameron got up to hug Rose and shake the Doctor and Jack's hand. "I'd ask you to sign the papers, but seeing as the Doctor doesn't technically exist, that won't be necessary."
"And we'd like to keep it that way," Jack admonished.
"Yes, I know- we shredded the paperwork already," Cameron said, her eyes twinkling.
"Good!" Jack said heartily. "Great. That's all, then."
"Want to see us off?" Rose asked Cameron, once all of the doctors had bid them their goodbyes. "It's actually a pretty cool sight."
Cameron nodded and left the room with she, Jack and the Doctor. When no one followed, she popped her head back in the room. "Isn't anyone going to come with me?"
"Fine! If you don't want to witness an alien space craft take off, I say you deserve not to see it," she said curtly. "Especially you, Chase, you might run off. Like a…what was it… a scared wombat?"
Chase stood up. "I'm coming!" He took a few steps forward. "Foreman? Wilson? Dr. House?"
"Yeah, yeah," Forman said, standing up.
"Fine," House said. "But I'm not going unless Wilson goes."
"Quit acting like a child," Wilson said, and moved towards the door. "Cameron's right. I'm going to watch."
Eventually, all five of the doctors were gathered across the street from the hospital, gathered in the mouth of pavement where the alley met the sidewalk.
"That's the TARDIS, eh?" Wilson said. "That's pretty damn cool."
"Yup," the Doctor said proudly. "She is."
"It's a she?" Chase asked. "Oh, of course it's a she, all ships are 'she's.'"
The Doctor scowled but said nothing- he knew there was no way he would be able to explain to Chase that the TARDIS was alive.
"Why is it a phone box?" Wilson asked.
"It just…is. It's a long story," the Doctor said.
"A corrupted chameleon circuit, alright?"
"Oh," Wilson said, as if he understood. "I see."
"We should go," Rose said, moving towards the TARDIS' door. "We've got things to see, places to go to…that kind of thing."
The Doctor unlocked the TARDIS' door and opened it. Now everyone could see inside.
"Woah!" Chase said. "It's… how is that possible?"
"Another very long story. But it is- you can see that it is."
"It's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside," House said, nodding. They all looked at him. "What?" he shrugged. "It just is."
Rose smiled at House. "Yeah," she said. She turned to Cameron and sadly said, "well, bye."
Cameron waved at Rose and Rose smiled back before disappearing into the TARDIS. Jack was next to go in, nodding at each of them but grinning at Cameron and Wilson. Finally, the Doctor took a few steps towards the threshold.
"Thanks again," he said, smiling at them. Not a huge smile, but enough. He went inside the TARDIS too, and shut the door behind him.
The TARDIS sat there for about fifteen seconds.
"Is it gonna do something?" Chase asked.
The minute the words escaped his mouth, a roaring noise began coming from the TARDIS. Chase jumped about three feet in the air and stumbled backward, but no one saw him- they were all transfixed on the TARDIS, which was dematerialising before their very eyes. The noise became louder before it became softer, and the outline of the box became fainter and fainter. In a few seconds, both the noise and the box were gone.
All five doctors stood, gaping at the spot where the TARDIS had been. A few moments later, they became conscious of the click-click-click of Stiletto heels from behind them.
Cuddy was walking up to them, frowning, her brow furrowed.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" she started ranting. "I've been trying to find you for the past 10 minutes! Why are you all the way out here- and what was that noise? And those lights?" She turned to the eldest doctor. "House, are you playing with fireworks again?"
No one said anything. Instead, they silently began making their way back to the hospital, all a bit dazed. Even House and Wilson had to blink a few times to make sure their eyes weren't playing tricks on them.
"We just saw a TARDIS dematerialize," Cameron explained to Cuddy as she passed. "That was the… coolest, and greatest thing I have ever seen in my entire life."
Cuddy crossed her arms and let Cameron pass. Soon, though, she wheeled around and began jogging after the doctors.
"Is anyone going to explain to me just who this Tardis is?"
Yep, that's the end! Parting is such sweet sorrow.
Thanks for reading, though! Hope you enjoyed it.